Members of America’s Essential Hospitals typically serve communities with many low-income, minority, and other vulnerable populations. More than a third of our hospitals’ patients are enrolled in Medicaid and more than half are Medicaid beneficiaries or uninsured.

For more than 50 years, Medicaid has provided a lifeline for struggling Americans. The program, a federal-state partnership, provides access to high-quality health care services at a lower per-beneficiary cost than private insurance and Medicare. The program has continually evolved, as well, into a modern, flexible, and accountable program for patients.

Medicaid Covers Nearly 35 Percent of Essential Hospitals’ Inpatients

But the program’s growth has caused some policymakers to call for changes to restrain federal Medicaid spending. Proposals now on the table include two that have surfaced periodically over the past 20 years: block grants to states and per-capita caps on federal contributions.

Block grants provide states with a lump sum of funding to cover all Medicaid-eligible individuals, while per-capita caps would provide a set federal contribution for each beneficiary. Past proposals for both block grants and per-capita caps would have, over time, dramatically cut federal spending on the Medicaid program – as much as $1 trillion over 10 years, by some estimates.

Substantial cuts to the Medicaid program would ultimately reduce the care available to vulnerable people, which means they would be denied coverage and benefits at a time when they need them the most. Medicaid cuts of the magnitude likely with block grants or per-capita caps would be unsustainable for essential hospitals, which already operate with no margin.

To meet their mission of caring for the most vulnerable, essential hospitals depend on a robust Medicaid program. America’s Essential Hospitals offers itself and its members as resources for lawmakers as the debate on Medicaid continues.